Fujifilm enters solvent UV market with Vybrant F1600 launch

Simon Nias
Friday, May 9, 2014

Fujifilm has announced its first hybrid solvent UV printer, the Vybrant F1600, a 1.6m-wide device based on Mimaki's JV400-160SUV, but featuring Fujifilm's own ink system and curing technology.

The 1,620mm, four-colour, roll-to-roll printer is aimed at the sign industry and uses Fujifilm's new FUZE ink technology, its first to combine a UV-curable component with a water-based solvent.

With a list price of around €25,000 the Vybrant F1600 is half the price of Fujifilm's mid-range Acuity LED 1600, a six-colour printer that can switch between roll and rigid media and is available with clear and white inks or light cyan and light magenta.

Aside from the superwide roll-fed Uvistar printers, the rest of Fujifilm's wide-format portfolio is flatbed, including the mid-range Acuity Advance Select (based on the Océ Arizona) which does feature a roll option, and the high-end Inca Onset devices.

Gary Barnes, large format systems product manager at Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems, said: "Fujifilm's strategy has always been UV but we feel that roll printing is going to have a bigger part to play in inkjet and to do that effectively you need to have the right ink characteristics."

While UV inks have the advantage of instant curing, durability and scratch resistance, solvent-based inks produce a thinner and more flexible ink film, offer better adhesion with certain materials and produce sharper images due to a lower dot gain versus UV prints.

Barnes said: "Having a solvent carrier gives you a lower ink build versus UV, because with UV 100% of the components that make up the ink - all the polymers, monomers, pigments and photo initiators - are converted into the ink film, whereas with solvent-based inks up to 95% of the ink is the carrier, which evaporates leaving just the resin and the pigment.

"That means you get a very flat film versus a UV system, where you get a certain amount of ink build. However, in production terms UV is better because to drive off that much of the volatile component is inherently difficult and requires a lot of heat."

Barnes said the Vybrant F1600 would complement the Acuity LED 1600 and would predominantly compete against eco-solvent or latex printers.

"The Acuity LED 1600 is very successful in packaging proofing and in signage; it has the light colours on board as well as the white and the clear and can even do some light rigid materials, so it's got a lot more functionality," he said.

For the time-being the Vybrant F1600 will be the only device available with Fujifilm's FUZE ink, although Barnes said that the company could adopt the technology on other devices in future, with one obvious route being Mimaki's other JV400, the 1.3m JV400-130SUV.

"We could go narrower - down to a 1.3m - or up to 2.6m or larger, so we need to work out which of those formats will complement the technology," he added.

Print speeds for the Vybrant F1600 are the same as Mimaki's device, including the 18.1sqm/hr 900x900dpi high speed mode and the 14.2sqm/hr 900x1,200dpi standard speed mode.

Fujifilm will showcase the Vybrant alongside its range of euromedia materials at Fespa Digital 2014 to demonstrate the variety of substrates the printer can handle, including vinyl and other flexible materials. The Vybrant F1600 will begin shipping this summer.

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